BP oil spill gives women PTSD

This 11 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

What Are We Doing to Prepare for the Next Big Oil Spill?

Unfortunately it’s only a matter of time before we’re faced with the next oil spill disaster. That’s why first-response teams like the Oiled Wildlife Care Network focus on what we can learn from past spills, and evaluate long-term impacts of oil and chemical dispersants on animals and ecosystems.

From the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in the USA:

Continued PTSD in women exposed to Deepwater horizon oil spill

March 25, 2019

Summary: A study reports that women exposed to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (BP) Oil Spill continue to experience symptoms of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Less than half reported receiving past-year mental health treatment despite the high levels of PTSD symptoms, which suggests that many affected women may not be receiving needed mental health care.

A study led by LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health reports that women exposed to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (BP) Oil Spill continue to experience symptoms of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The results are published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, now available online.

“This is the first investigation reporting trauma and PTSD in our Louisiana cohort, with findings suggesting that women in this study report notably high levels of trauma as well as a high prevalence of probable PTSD,” notes study senior author Edward Peters, DMD, SM, SM, ScD, Professor and Program Director of Epidemiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health. “Unfortunately, less than half reported receiving past-year mental health treatment despite the high levels of PTSD symptoms, which suggests that many affected women may not be receiving needed mental health care.”

The research team, which also included researchers from Brown University, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, studied 1,997 women from seven coastal Louisiana parishes affected by the spill (Orleans, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Plaquemines, Lafourche, Terrebonne and St. Mary) who were enrolled in the Women and Their Children’s Health (WaTCH) Study. The researchers sought to better understand post-disaster symptomatology, particularly women’s mental health. They found five distinct types of PTSD symptoms — low, moderate without mood alterations, moderate with mood alterations, severe without risk-taking, and severe with risk-taking.

Findings also include:

  • Women with a low-symptom profile had fewer traumas and socioeconomic risk factors.
  • Women with severe PTSD symptoms had more traumas and socioeconomic risk factors.
  • Most women with severe PTSD symptoms had no prior PTSD diagnosis.

The researchers’ analysis reveals that a sizable number of women in WaTCH study communities suffer from PTSD symptoms, with roughly 13% of their sample meeting or exceeding the score threshold for probable PTSD on the PTSD Checklist, and even more women reporting subthreshold levels of PTSD symptoms.

“Our study continues to observe that women in southeast Louisiana have a high burden of mental health disorders,” adds Dr. Peters. “In addition to the current study, earlier publications by our team have also observed high levels of depression and mental distress in this population.”

The authors conclude that addressing mental health and access to mental health care is important in the population highly affected by the BP Oil Spill. This population also experienced other disasters, including Hurricane Katrina. With a rising number of disasters, those living in southeastern coastal Louisiana, a particularly vulnerable region of the United States, are at higher risk for PTSD and other mental health disorders.

The authors report that the study was limited by use of self-reported data and one-time assessment of PTSD symptoms.

USA: ILHAN OMAR SHARES ‘TRAUMA’ OF WAR AFTER PTSD DISMISSED Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who fled war in Somalia as a child, is speaking out about the trauma of war for civilians ― and challenging the notion that post-traumatic stress disorder is an issue that only soldiers face. Omar was responding to Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who dismissed her mention of her own PTSD as “offensive” to military veterans. [HuffPost]

PTSD veteran’s bloodbath in California, USA

This 9 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

After Massacre in California Bar, Will a Democrat-Controlled House Take Action on Gun Control?

The city of Thousands Oaks, California, is mourning after a former marine opened fire at a country music bar Wednesday night, killing 12 people, mostly students. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February.

Police have identified the gunman as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine veteran who had deployed to Afghanistan and had a history of mental health issues, including possible PTSD.

The dead include 27-year-old Telemachus Orfanos, who survived the deadly Las Vegas massacre at a country music festival last year, only to be gunned down Wednesday night.

We speak with Sarah Dachos, a Navy veteran and volunteer with the D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and a founding member of the Everytown Veterans Advisory Council.

This 9 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Why Gun Control Isn’t Enough

Rebel HQ’s Emma Vigeland explains why healthcare and combatting social isolation is just as important as gun control.

By Rafael Azul in the USA:

Ian David Long, the Thousand Oaks, California shooter, likely suffered from PTSD

10 November 2018

On Wednesday night, 28-year-old Ian David Long, a US Marine Corps veteran of the Afghanistan war, shot and killed a dozen people at a dance club in Thousand Oaks, California, some 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles. He then killed himself.

The massacre has horrified masses of people, both in the US and around the world. What could have led this young man to commit such a crime?

The American media has made various attempts, most of them dishonest or superficial, to answer this question. All of them ignore the consequences of decades of militarist violence and neo-colonial war, along with the toxic social atmosphere in the US.

The following were the final words Long posted on his Facebook page shortly before he initiated his shooting spree: “I hope people call me insane … wouldn’t that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah, I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’… or ‘keep you in my thoughts’ … every time … and wonder why these keep happening.”

Friends and neighbors interviewed by the media present a contradictory picture of Ian David Long.

Long, described as a frequent patron of the Borderline Bar & Grill, arrived around 11:30 pm. He proceeded to shoot the security guard outside, then entered the bar and grill and shot the young woman at the cashier’s desk. He went on to fire his handgun at the customers inside. It is not known how many bullets were fired. He apparently said nothing during the entire attack.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean described the scene inside the Borderline after the shooting as “horrific” and said there was “blood everywhere.” Police found Long, dead of what Dean believes to be a self-inflicted gunshot. The 28-year-old’s semi-automatic handgun, a modified .45-caliber Glock, was at the scene.

Long served in the Marine Corps from 2008 to 2013 as an infantry machine gunner, and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010-11.

In April 2018, a mental health crisis team from the Ventura County sheriff’s department was called to his mother’s home (also Long’s residence) in the Newbury Park section of Thousand Oaks because Long was acting “irrationally”. At the time, a police mental health specialist suspected that Long suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, after talking to him and judging that the young man represented no threat to himself or others, the crisis team decided not to detain Long for mental health evaluation against his will.

A neighbor of Long and his mother’s described the scene. “He was raving hell in the house, you know, kicking holes in the walls and stuff and one of the neighbors was concerned and called the police”, Richard Berge, who lived one block away from the home, told Reuters. “They couldn’t get him to come out, so it was like a standoff for four or five hours.”

Dean added that police believe that Ian David Long suffered from PTSD as a result of the experiences he underwent during his four-and-a-half-year stint in the Marine Corps and in Afghanistan specifically.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is triggered by exposure to traumatic events in which the person “experienced, witnessed, or was confronted by death or serious injury to self or others and responded with intense fear, helplessness or horror.”

PTSD sufferers have described feelings of grief, depression, anxiety and anger. Many have flashbacks and nightmares and turn to drug abuse.

Very high rates of PTSD and anger have been seen in US military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Matthew Tull at Verywellmind recently pointed to a study by a “group of researchers [who] looked at rates of PTSD and anger problems among a group of 117 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans.

“Similar to other reports, the veterans they studied exhibited high rates of PTSD. In fact, about 40 percent had PTSD and an additional 18 percent almost had a PTSD diagnosis, or what is often referred to as subthreshold PTSD (they were struggling with some severe symptoms of PTSD but not quite enough symptoms to meet criteria for a full PTSD diagnosis).”

Tull went on, “In addition, over half of the veterans with PTSD indicated that they had been aggressive in the past four months, such as threatening physical violence, destroying property and having a physical fight with someone. Veterans with almost a PTSD diagnosis reported just about the same amount of aggressive behavior as the veterans with PTSD.”

As the number of veterans with PTSD and other forms of mental illness was increasing, a 2014 report from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) reported that treatments were inadequate, “ad hoc, incremental and crisis-driven.” There was minimal planning in developing “long-range” approaches, the IoM committee argued, lengthy delays in providing treatment for those who needed therapy (only 53 percent received the minimum therapy of eight sessions in 14 weeks) and the interruption and delay of individual counseling sessions.

Thomas Burke, a pastor who served with Long in Afghanistan, said the latter’s battalion had arrived during intense fighting in Helmand province, a center of Taliban resistance.

Burke told CNN: “We train a generation to be as violent as possible, then we expect them to come home and be OK. It’s not mental illness. It’s that we’re doing something to a generation, and we’re not responding to the needs they have.”

In addition to confronting Taliban forces in Helmand, US and allied troops terrorized the Afghan population. In March 2017, in a military online forum, Ian Long described some of his military experience using the nickname “doorkicker03”, alluding to the repression of civilians.

The news that Long had been the shooter, and that he had posted his dark Facebook message greatly shocked one his friends, who spoke to CNN; “That does not sound like Ian to me at all. I don’t know what was going through his head when he wrote this. It must have been terrible”, he declared. “I don’t know what the hell happened. He was always happy. I never thought this would ever come from him. We used to go snowboarding all the time. He was a good guy”, said another.

“He wasn’t unhinged, he wasn’t violent. He was a sweet guy who served his country and was using his GI Bill to go to college and get a degree to help more people”, another friend declared. “Out of our group of friends I thought the highest of him.”

Curtis Kellogg, who served with Long in the Marines, told CNN that while Long had a sense of humor, “like most Marines who have seen combat it could get dark at times, just like all of us.”

The official response to the Thousand Oaks massacre is a combination of banal, formulaic expressions of sorrow and bewilderment. What do such people know about the consequences of their wars and invasions?

Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, Reuters commented, “said it was too early to speculate on the shooter’s motives but that he appeared to have acted alone. ‘We will be sure to paint a picture of the state of mind of the subject and do our best to identify a motivation,’ Delacourt said, adding that the FBI would investigate any possible ‘radicalization’ or links to militant groups.”

Ventura County Sheriff Dean told the media, “Obviously, he had something going on in his head that would cause him to do something like this.”

Ian Long’s precise mental state November 7 will perhaps never be known. That night’s cryptic and troubled Facebook entry provides a clue. Hundreds of thousands of youth have been called on to participate in an unending series of wars and occupations (“kicking in” doors); tortured by their experiences in many cases and left with no opportunities, no real help for their mental and physical injuries, nothing more than “hopes and prayers”. That condition, working on the most psychologically vulnerable and susceptible, almost inevitably produces tragedies like the Thousand Oaks mass shooting.

California massacre by PTSD Afghan war veteran

This 8 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

California mass shooting: Suspect identified as Ian Long | Live updates from Thousand Oaks, CA

A gunman opened fire overnight in a Southern California bar and country music venue. The Ventura County sheriff said the bar was crowded with more than 100 people, many of them college students.

The gunman, identified by police as Ian David Long, 28, killed 12 people, including a sheriff’s sergeant who responded to the gunfire. Police later found the shooter dead inside the bar, possibly from a self-inflicted wound.

The rampage took place at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The British government sent Salman Abedi as a child soldier to the NATO war on Libya. That bloody war destroyed Abedi’s teenage mind. It made him a mass murderer, committing the horrible crime of the bloodbath at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

Now, after many similar atrocities, yet another similar atrocity has happened in the USA. This time not the bloody Libya war. Also not the bloody Iraq war. This time it is the bloody war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon sends United States soldiers to wars all over the world. Don’t think that the victims of these bloody wars will all be people, mainly civilians, in countries far away from the USA. These wars come home.

From ABC in the USA:

What we know about Thousand Oaks shooting suspect, Ian David Long


Ian David Long, 28, has been identified as the suspected gunman in the mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks nightclub.

The shooting happened late Wednesday inside Borderline Bar & Grill. At least a dozen people were killed, including a sheriff’s sergeant, Ron Helus. None of the other victims have been identified. …

Investigators knocked on doors of surrounding residents to find out what they may know about Long. One neighbor who knew Long said he was a veteran who suffered from PTSD. She said, “I don’t know what he was doing with a gun.”

Others said Long lived at the home with his mother. Richard Berge, a friend and neighbor [of] Long’s mother, said Long’s mother was worried about her son.

He wouldn’t get help“, Berge said.

[Sheriff] Dean said Long was in the United States Marine Corps. The USMC released Long’s service record, detailing that he served from 2008 to 2013, deploying to Afghanistan from Nov. 16, 2010 to June 14, 2011. His ranking was a corporal as a machine gunner, the USMC said.

Long had several interactions with the sheriff’s department over the years, Dean said. These incidents include a traffic collision, a traffic citation as well as an instance in which Long was a victim of battery at a local bar in 2015.

Dean also described an incident in April, when deputies were called to his Newbury Park home regarding a disturbance.

“He was somewhat irate, acting a little irrationally. They called out our crisis intervention team, our mental health specialist”, Dean said.

Those specialists ended up clearing him because they “didn’t feel he was qualified to be taken under 5150”, Dean said, referencing the California law code for the temporary involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness.

His gun, which was a .45-caliber handgun, was purchased legally, Dean said.

Like so many other weapons used in massacres.

Neo-nazis and others on the Internet speculated that the Thousands Oaks bloodbath was ‘Muslim terrorism’. And/or ‘Jewish terrorism’. But no, Long, unlike Abedi, was not a Muslim, but a white man, presumably Christian.

United States PTSD Afghanistan veteran murders three women

This 9 March 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

4 dead in Yountville Veterans Home hostage situation

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Veteran shoots healthcare workers to death in California veterans’ home

In [Yountville town in] California, a former soldier has shot three people in a veterans’ home. The perpetrator, a 36-year-old decorated veteran who had been stationed in Afghanistan for a year, then committed suicide. …

Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are treated in the home. It is one of the largest centers for veterans in the US. There were about a thousand people, varying from veterans of the recent war in Iraq to former soldiers who fought in the Second World War.

The perpetrator was treated at the center, along with other veterans who have been in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few days before he took people hostage, the man is said to have been expelled from the program, why is not known.

All three people whom this veteran, made mentally ill by the Afghan war, killed were women. Apparently, though he was mentally ill, he did have access to a lethal firearm.

Pentagon wars come home to New York City

This video from the USA says about itself:

Many Vietnam veterans still struggle with PTSD

22 July 2015

New research shows more than a quarter-million Vietnam veterans are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, 40 years after the war ended. Kenneth Craig reports from New York.

By Eric London in the USA:

Veteran drives through crowd in Times Square: The war comes home

20 May 2017

On Thursday, a 26-year-old military veteran named Richard Rojas drove his Honda Accord through a crowded sidewalk in New York City’s Times Square, killing an 18-year-old Michigan woman and wounding 22. Rojas says he was on Phenycylidine (PCP) and that he intended to kill passers-by.

After crashing through the crowd, Rojas ran around screaming and waving his arms. He evidently told police that god told him to commit this horrible act. He had previously reported hearing voices in his head. He allegedly told police, “You were supposed to shoot me!”

At a press conference following the incident, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, “There is no indication that this was an act of terrorism.”

By this, de Blasio meant that Rojas had no association with an organized terrorist group. But, in a larger sense, this tragedy is the product of the terror wreaked by US imperialism across the world, poisoning social relations domestically and breaking the minds of countless young enlisted people.

In an interview with the New York Times, Rojas’ childhood friend, Hansel Guerrero, explained that Rojas joined the Navy as “a journey out of the New York life.” Guerrero and Rojas lived in the same apartment building on Walton Avenue in the working-class neighborhood of Mount Eden, in New York’s Bronx borough.

Guerrero told the Times: “People go and they serve their country and they come back crazy and nobody helps them.”

Rojas, whose mother is Dominican, worked in auto shops and dreamed of graduating from college. He joined the Navy in 2011, working as an electrician’s mate until he was dishonorably discharged in 2014. It is not clear whether he served in a combat zone. While stationed at a Naval base in Jacksonville, Florida, Rojas was arrested in 2012 for threatening violence against police. In 2013, the Navy locked him up for two months in a military jail, though it has not been reported why.

Rojas’ friends explained that he wasn’t the same upon returning from the Navy. On April 15, 2015, he was convicted for driving while intoxicated.

Reuters spoke with another of Rojas’ friends, Harrison Ramos: “Rojas returned from his Navy service with a drinking problem and had posted ‘crazy stuff’ on social media,” the news service reported.

Ramos told Reuters: “Don’t make him out to be a terrorist or something. He served his country and when he came back, nobody helped him. He went through a real rough time. That’s my friend, and it hurts.”

“He finally came home, and it was hard for him to find a job,” Ramos added. “He was having a lot of bad nightmares. He was talking crazy. He was acting strange.”

The Times reported: “His mind was clouded with conspiracy theories. His dreams of opening his own clothing business had wilted. He lashed out at friends who challenged him; some thought his grasp of reality slipped and that he needed psychiatric help.

“During a string of arrests in recent years, Mr. Rojas once threatened to kill police officers, and last week accused a notary of trying to steal his identity and grabbed his neck, the authorities said.”

The sentiments expressed by Rojas’ friends are commonplace in a country where hundreds of thousands of veterans have been broken by the weight of a quarter century of war. There are many young people in the US who know a veteran who “came back crazy” with “nobody to help them,” as Rojas’ friends put it. Some counties have even set up special court programs for veterans convicted of crimes.

Last month, a 23-year-old Army veteran in North Carolina strapped her service dog to a tree and shot it five times before posting a video of the execution to Facebook. The dog was intended to help her with her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the episode calls to mind the first line of Phil Klay’s Redeployment, a series of short stories about returning veterans and the ongoing wars: “We shot dogs.”

On May 16, 24-year-old Edwin Fuentes was shot to death by police following a stand-off in Tustin, California. Fuentes was an Afghanistan veteran who suffered from PTSD. His neighbor, another veteran, told the OC Register that Fuentes “was having problems and he wanted other vets to talk to.”

A 2016 study from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) revealed that 20 veterans kill themselves every day—over 116,000 since 2001, roughly the size of the population of Michigan’s state capital, Lansing.

A survey of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans also revealed that a majority of veterans have contemplated suicide. A 2017 VA report found that female veterans are two to five times more likely to kill themselves than civilian women, in part due to the prevalence of rape and sexual abuse within the military.

The reactionary climate of nationalism and brutality engendered by the US military has transformed the social composition of the country.

The US Defense Department is the country’s largest employer, with 3.2 million employees, military and civilian. As the strike force of corporate America, the military exerts an immense power over all of the “official” institutions of American capitalism.

It’s reactionary culture, of idealizing violence and justifying its crimes in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan through hyper-nationalism, permeates into broader sections of society, altering not only the personal lives of millions of veterans, but also the social psychology of the country as a whole. No American is unfamiliar with the nauseating displays of militarism in everyday life: the bomber fly-overs before sporting events, Marine Corps recruiters in high schools, the use of tanks and assault rifles by local police.

In the words of Shakespeare’s Edward IV: “They shall have wars and pay for their presumption.” The personal breakdown of individuals like Richard Rojas exemplifies the breakdown of American society under the weight of US imperialism and capitalism.

Canadian Afghan war veteran kills family, himself

This video from Canada says about itself:

‘Lost my mom and my niece were gone too’

5 January 2017

Lionel Desmond’s sister Cassandra describes how she found out members of her family had been killed.

Read more here.

Not only does the bloody Iraq war come home to the USA as bloodbaths at Fort Lauderdale airport and elsewhere.

The bloody war in Afghanistan comes home to Canada as well.

By Laurent Lafrance in Canada:

Canadian Afghan war veteran commits suicide after killing family

11 January 2017

A tragedy that took place at the beginning of January in Upper Big Tracadie, a small and isolated town in northeastern Nova Scotia, has shed light on the consequences of the increasingly aggressive domestic and foreign policies of the Canadian ruling elite.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed last Friday that 33-year-old Afghan war veteran Lionel Desmond shot himself after killing his mother, Brenda, 52; his wife, Shanna Desmond, 31; and their 10-year-old daughter, Aliyah. The murder-suicide has left the community, located some 200 miles from Halifax, in shock.

Relatives confirmed that Desmond suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he came back from Afghanistan, where he was deployed from January to August of 2007 as an infantry soldier in the Royal Canadian Regiment. He joined the armed forces in 2004 and was released 18 months ago.

This latest tragedy is an indictment of the entire ruling class and military apparatus that have used young men as cannon fodder to advance Canada’s imperialist interests around the globe. When these men come back home, usually traumatized by the cruelty of war and the atrocities inflicted on the civilian population—often with their own participation—they are left with inadequate health care and other vital services due to decades of budget cutting by all of the establishment political parties.

Desmond wrote on his Facebook page last month that he had hit his head on a light armoured vehicle and suffered back spasms after falling off a wall while in the military. He said he had been told he had post-concussion disorder as well as PTSD. Desmond’s sister-in-law explained that he recently decided to stay at his grandparents’ house because he was “getting so out of control,” and that he was verbally aggressive with his wife.

Rev. Elaine Walcott, another relative, said, “Lionel loved his mother, his family, and he was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder and the memories he didn’t want to have.” Lionel’s sister, Cassandra Desmond, told CBC News: “My brother suffered in silence for 10 years fighting demons that we don’t even know, seeing things, replaying events in his head…”

According to Shanna Desmond’s aunt, Catherine Hartline, when Lionel Desmond returned from Afghanistan he sought treatment in Montreal but did not get the adequate assistance. “The poor guy needed help and they sent him up to Montreal and put a little Band-Aid on him and sent him back.”

It was also revealed that Desmond tried to check himself into a mental health facility at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish the day before the tragedy, but he was apparently told there were no beds and that the hospital did not have his files.

This revelation prompted Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to claim that his government, in conjunction with health authorities, would find out “what may or may not have happened” at St. Martha’s. In another token gesture, the Canadian government announced that it would pay the costs of the funeral of Desmond and his family members.

The government is clearly seeking to wash its hands of the situation and cover up the fact that the lack of services at St. Martha is the result of years of austerity measures imposed on public services by successive Liberal, Conservative and NDP provincial governments.

An emergency room doctor who works at the hospital, Dr. Maureen Allen, told CBC how budget cuts had impacted the services provided. Allen said emergency rooms “are inundated” with people struggling with mental health and addiction issues, and that the facility no longer has a dedicated budget for mental health services.

Under both the previous Harper Conservative government and the current Liberal Trudeau government, Veteran Affairs Canada has slashed millions of dollars, translating into hundreds of job cuts, closed offices that previously provided assistance to veterans and cut back on medical marijuana. In power, the Conservatives eliminated lifetime pensions for Afghanistan veterans and clawed back benefits. The number of VA employees shrank 21 percent between 2008 and 2014, resulting in the department’s smallest workforce since 1998.

Many ill and injured ex-soldiers must wait for months to find out if they qualify for benefits. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that just over half of the 6,000 veterans who applied for disability benefits between April and July last year received a decision within 16 weeks.

Veteran services have also been targeted for privatization. The most recent job cuts imposed by the Liberals will now force veterans to deal with Medavie Blue Cross, a for-profit private insurance company, for their benefit claims.

According to reports, Desmond received treatment from a joint personnel support unit for a year prior to his release from the military in July 2015. The JPSU, which is meant to provide support to physically and mentally ill soldiers, is severely under-funded.

The horrific event in Upper Big Tracadie is the latest in a string of similar tragedies involving war veterans. According to a Globe and Mail investigation, at least 72 soldiers and veterans have killed themselves after serving on the dangerous Afghanistan mission. The most recent reported case took place in 2015, when Robert Giblin, a veteran of two Afghanistan tours, repeatedly stabbed his wife before they fell from a high-rise apartment in Toronto.

Nearly one in 10 Canadian military personnel who took part in the mission in Afghanistan (about 3,600 out of 39,000) are now collecting disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder. However, experts say the prevalence of the illness is likely much higher among Canada’s combat troops. There are probably many ex-soldiers who have not reached out for benefits, and others who have never been diagnosed.

Calls by the media and politicians for better help for veterans are highly hypocritical. Above all, they seek to obscure the real cause of the Upper Big Tracadie tragedy: Canada’s participation in imperialist carnage in Central Asia and around the globe. In fact, after wiping their crocodile tears, the Canadian ruling class and the media will continue to push for a more aggressive foreign policy.

The Afghan war played a critical role in the reassertion of aggressive Canadian militarism. It marked the definitive end of a period in which, for their own geopolitical interests, the Canadian ruling class presented itself on the global stage as a “peacekeeping” nation.

Military strategists and government advisers celebrated the Afghan intervention, which saw the Canadian Armed Forces assume the leadership role in counter-insurgency operations in Kandahar. In the words of one official, this was a “revolution” in Canadian foreign policy. The ruling class is not about to allow what it views as collateral damage to the lives of veterans and their families to get in the way of the ruthless assertion of its interests.

Desmond’s fate—and the high number of soldiers suffering from PTSD—points to the real character of the Afghan war. Launched in 2001 shortly after September 11 as part of the US-led so-called “war on terror”, the Afghan war has revealed itself as a neocolonial war in which the major powers sought to destabilize and dominate the entire energy resource-rich region.

The Conservatives and the liberals both supported Canada’s participation in the war. For its part, the union-backed New Democratic Party, which made the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan one of its main “progressive” policy planks, made an about-face in the 2008 election campaign when it sought a coalition with the Liberals and pledged to back Canada playing a leading role in the conflict through 2011.

Since then, the Canadian government has joined every military adventure led by the United States. Far from backing down from this war drive, the Trudeau government will soon announce a new deployment of Canadian troops in Africa to join US and French-led counter-insurgency missions and has already sent Canadian forces to Eastern Europe to menace Russia.

SURVIVING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE MILITARY Abused military wives are often told to stay quiet about what happens at home. We talked to a dozen who feel they no longer can. We also asked readers to send us their personal stories. While their experiences occurred over decades, in different locations and across all branches of the military, many of the stories have similar themes. [HuffPost]

Calais refugee children suffer PTSD

A demonstration of over 100,000 marched through London to welcome refugees in September 2015

From News Line daily in Britain:

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Almost all Calais refugee children suffer post-traumatic stress

ALMOST all of the children who have spent time in the so-called ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais for refugees have a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says the Citizens UK charity.

Delays in transfers out of Calais or being housed in storage containers has left many youths with deteriorating mental health. There are also reports of children sleeping rough around the periphery of the camp.

Staff at Citizens UK say they have been sent suicidal text messages from the children, since the demolition of the refugee camp. Dr Susannah Fairweather, a psychiatrist who compiled evidence for the charity, said there had been a ‘significant deterioration in the children’s mental health,’ including a risk of suicide.

She told the Guardian: ‘As a consultant psychiatrist who has assessed children both in the “Jungle” and once they have arrived in the UK, I know the children living there experienced horrific traumas both in their home countries and their journeys there.

‘Of the children who underwent psychiatric assessment, all of them presented with psychiatric symptoms, with approximately 90% meeting the criteria for a recognised psychiatric disorder, such as PTSD and depression.’

Citizens UK says that of the 40 children being taken care of, 90% say they have ‘increased anxiety’ and over 30% report having suicidal thoughts. Just 15% of the lone children in Calais have now been transferred to Britain and 1,600 are now scattered all over France in temporary accommodation.

Last Friday, 4 November, the May Tory government said that no more children would be coming to the UK this weekend. Fairweather said: ‘The young people who have lived in the unstructured, informal camp for a prolonged period of time find it particularly difficult to adjust to life in more ordinary circumstances.

‘A temporary transfer to accommodation in France will only serve to exacerbate this.

‘The longer they are met with uncertainty from authorities about their situation, the less likely they are to trust professionals. This increases the risk that they will use unofficial systems to enter the UK, such as people smugglers.’

Many of the children are in limbo as diplomatic tensions between Paris and London continue. French President Francois Hollande is demanding that PM Theresa May and her government ‘take their share to welcome them in Britain’. However, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was the duty of the French government to ‘properly protect’ the children.

Meanwhile Save the Children charity has recounted another episode in the plight of refugees attempting the Mediterranean crossing. It said last Friday: ‘Two very young children, whose mother died while on board a boat ferrying refugees and migrants from North Africa to Europe, were rescued by Save the Children on Thursday 3 November as part of an operation in which more than 100 people were saved by our search and rescue vessel, the Vos Hestia.

‘Several children, including one who was as young as two, were among those on board the boat ferrying migrants and refugees. The two children who lost their mother have no other relatives with them and are now under the care of Save the Children’s on board child protection teams, who work closely with the Italian authorities. Prayers were said on board for their mother.

‘The rescue came less than 24 hours after more than 240 migrants and refugees are believed to have drowned when two rubber dinghies capsized off the North African coast, survivors told Save the Children. Only 29 people out of the at least 270 people believed to have been on board the two dinghies were pulled alive from the water. Save the Children was on hand to assist the rescue operations late on Wednesday and spotted two women who had been out at sea for hours.’

Roger Alonso, Save the Children’s team leader on the Vos Hestia said: ‘There are no words to describe the horrific events we have witnessed over the past 24 hours. We’ve seen a mother in utter shock, unable to speak after losing her baby. Two young children have witnessed their mother die in unspeakable circumstances.

‘These mothers left Africa with their children with hopes of a better future – it cost them their lives. Our team is now doing everything they can to provide support to these children, including psychological care. This needless loss of life highlights the perverse impact of current EU policy, which is focused on protecting borders rather than providing to refugees and migrants, especially those most vulnerable, legal and safe ways to reach sanctuary in our countries.’

The charity stressed: ‘Save the Children has repeatedly called for the EU to provide safe and legal routes into Europe, such as resettlement, humanitarian visas and other forms of humanitarian admissions, which should help to ensure minimum standards of protection, especially for children.

‘So far, 2016 has been the deadliest year on record for those crossing the Mediterranean, and if the number of casualties from the latest shipwreck is confirmed, more than 4,100 people will have died trying to make it to Europe from North Africa.

‘The journey is so dangerous that the likelihood of dying while trying to make the crossing is now one for every 47 arrivals.

‘Save the Children have rescued more than 1,300 people, including more than 200 children, and is continuing to conduct its life saving-operations to help prevent more people losing their lives at sea.’

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has opened a new camp in Hasansham to house newly displaced Iraqi families fleeing the military offensive in Mosul. Some 3,000 people were received at the camp last Friday and all families are being allocated a tent and receiving assistance.

At present 450 tents – enough to shelter 2,700 people – are available and 500 tents will be erected per day to house additional arrivals. The camp will be able to house 1,800 families, almost 11,000 people. Friday’s new arrivals are among an estimated 8,000 people who arrived to Khazer and Hasansham camps in the past three days.

Many have come from Gogjali and other areas on the eastern outskirts of Mosul, which saw fierce fighting three days ago and is now under the control of the Iraqi Security Forces. Frederic Cussigh, UNHCR’s Senior Field Coordinator, was in Hasansham Camp as it opened and witnessed the arrivals.

He said last Friday: ‘People arrived with nothing or next to nothing, exhausted but relieved to find safety and receive help. Everyone who arrived today will be allocated a tent and receive water and a hot meal.’

Sultan Ghassem, a 47-year-old metalworker from Gogjali, Mosul, said: ‘We left home three days ago to escape the mortars falling all around us. For the last two years we haven’t had even the basics of life, only oppression. There was no money, no work. We sold everything we owned just to eat. The only reason nothing happened to me is because I stayed in my home all the time.’

Shmala Hamdi, a 50-year-old housewife from Gogjali, said: ‘We spent two days hiding in a corner of our house sheltering from the bullets and bombs. We left our home this morning as soon as the fighting was over we fled and came straight to this camp. The last two and a half years have been no kind of life.

‘We weren’t allowed out of the house, and the boredom ate away at our souls. Now we feel safe, and I’m looking forward to sleeping properly for the first time in months. I’m worried about living in a tent during winter, but as soon as it’s safe we will go back home.’

Hasansham is one of 11 camps UNHCR is building in order to respond to an anticipated large-scale displacement from Mosul. Five camps are now ready to receive people fleeing the city.

Rumbles in The Jungle. BETHANY RIELLY sees a hard-hitting depiction of the camp in Calais which castigates governments that have turned a blind eye to the plight of refugees: here.

BRITAIN has paid France hundreds of millions of pounds to increase border security, with the cash flowing into the pockets of military and security companies, campaigners revealed today. French authorities have been clearing refugee settlements in Calais over the last two weeks, while the British Border Force began using drones to spot and stop migrant boats from crossing the Channel: here.

PTSD soldiers in Iraq, 3,000 years ago

This video is called History of Assyria 3000 to 1000 BC.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers

Academics have found evidence that PTSD was suffered earlier than previously thought in Mesopotamia

Ben Tufft

Sunday 25 January 2015

Ancient warriors could have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as far back as 1300 BC, according to new research.

It had been thought that the first record of PTSD was in 490 BC, during the Greco-Persian Battle of Marathon, but researchers at Anglia Ruskin University have found that it could have existed more than 3,000 years ago.

Evidence was discovered of trauma suffered by warriors in Mesopotamia, or modern-day Iraq, under the Assyrian Dynasty, which ruled from 1300-609 BC.

Texts from the period refer to how King Elam’s mind “changed”,

This is a mistake by the Independent. The paper does not mention a ‘King Elam’, but a king of Elam. Elam was a rival kingdom to Assyria.

meaning that he was disturbed, or suffering from PTSD. Soldiers in Assyria were required to fight in battles every third year of their compulsory military service and this is believed to be the cause of the condition.

The paper states that while modern technology has increased the effectiveness and types of weaponry, “ancient soldiers facing the risk of injury and death must have been just as terrified of hardened and sharpened swords, showers of sling-stones or iron-hardened tips of arrows and fire arrows.”

It added: “The risk of death and the witnessing of the death of fellow soldiers appears to have been a major source of psychological trauma.

“Moreover, the chance of death from injuries, which can nowadays be surgically treated, must have been much greater in those days. All these factors contributed to post-traumatic or other psychiatric stress disorders resulting from the experience on the ancient battlefield.”

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, director of the Veterans and Families Institute at the university and co-author of the paper, said that the research shows that PTSD was first witnessed far earlier than previously thought.

“This paper, and the research on which it is based, demonstrates that post traumatic psychological symptoms of battle were evident in ancient Mesopotamia. Well before the Greek and Roman eras, before the time of Abraham and the biblical Kings, David and Solomon, and contemporarily with the time of the Pharaohs,” he said.

“Especially significant is that this evidence comes from the area known as the cradle of civilisation and, of course, the site of much recent conflict including the recent Gulf and Iraq Wars in which many British service personnel were involved.”

The paper is entitled “Nothing New Under the Sun: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders in the Ancient World” and was co-authored with Dr Walid Abdul-Hamid of Queen Mary University of London.

British homeless military veterans, poem

This video from the USA says about itself:

Homeless War Veteran Arrested at Veteran’s Day Parade

31 May 2014

Homeless Iraq war veteran, David McKee, is seen here arrested at the Veteran’s Day parade. Land of the brave.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Sunday 4 January 2015

Homeless Veterans appeal: Return of the fallen triggers so many emotions for poet

Eric Ridley was moved to tell our veterans’ stories in verse

So Badly Scarred

Another night, a cardboard box
A bottle by my side
The high street that I sleep on
I once marched along with pride
My friends and family waving flags
They cheered for me so loud
Some families embraced photographs
Sad faces in the crowd

My tour complete, I was now home
A family life. Relax.
But then the cut-backs hit me
My career, my job was axed
I felt so bloody angry
The life I loved, where I stood tall
So many tours of duty
Survived the battles
Came home to fall

A civvy life came all too soon.
A different queue each day.
Fill-in forms to make ends meet
Then benefits delay.
Struggling to pay bills on time,
Continually assessed
But because I found a job, I worked
I came off less than best

Free to come home every night
A family “do our thing”
The nightmares of my battles fought
Were there, but locked within
My world was now a different place
But never a new start
I struggled, my wife stood by me
My children gave me heart

I love my wife, but could not show
So screwed-up deep inside
The man she married came back home
The man she loved had died.
My wife I didn’t share with her
My anger broke her heart
But not because she saw it
Silence! … tore our love apart

My shell became my armour
Drink became my friend
The anger grew inside of me
No more could I pretend
This different place, this different world
Was not what I had planned
My wife’s love kept me trying
Why! … I couldn’t understand

This cardboard box should never be
Is this what I fought for?
My duty for my country
A forces’ veteran still at war
My war, it is my nightmares
My wife she fought them too
Until she couldn’t take no more
Our children never knew

The answers are there somewhere!
To bring about an end
I’m not the only one in need
So many still pretend
The answers are there somewhere!
Steps to take are not just mine
Don’t let me see my end like this
Or end-up doing time

The first steps can be easy
Those same steps can be hard
For a veteran that sleeps rough each night
With a mind so badly scarred

A report for the UK homeless charity Crisis describes the system of benefit sanctions as cruel and disproportionately affecting homeless people: here.

USA: After gas shutoff, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran died of hypothermia in his home: here.

THE PROCEDURES THE VA WON’T PAY FOR “After Army Staff Sgt. Alex Dillmann was paralyzed from the abdomen down in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, the Department of Veterans Affairs paid to retrofit his Chevrolet Silverado truck so he could drive it and bought him a handcycle so he could exercise. But the agency that cares for former troops won’t pay for what the onetime squad leader and his wife, Holly, ache for most: a chance to have children.” [WaPo]

VA HOSPITAL MAY HAVE INFECTED 1,800 VETS WITH HIV Due to subpar dental cleaning procedures. [CNN]